Note: This is an (extremely infamous) archived article from the old site Super Mario 3D Land News. It shows my disdain for the linearity focused direction of the 3D Mario series clearly, it quotes Sean Malstrom in places and it ended up nearly destroying the site’s reputation on Youtube. Either way, no one on Nintendo 3DS Daily actually agrees with this any more, so trying to criticise it now is a complete waste of time.
Mainly based off a fairly infamous video made about the game, but hopefully the text version of the article is a bit less biased and explains the thoughts from the video more clearly. If you want to however see a condensed form of this article in the format of a video, look at the video below:
Yes, reaction to it has been mainly negative, but maybe the long form of the explanation should clear up some stuff. First off, about the linearity…
It’s mainly a matter of taste, but it does seem overly linear, as if Nintendo has taken the formula from Super Mario Galaxy 2 and took it up to eleven rather than considered whether it’s even the right approach.
And it really all ties in to a flawed philosophy Nintendo seems to have, that all Mario games should now been of the 3D style for whatever reason and that 2D ones are less important. In fact, it all seems like Nintendo are literally thinking people who prefer 2D Mario games are stupid for liking them more than 3D ones like Galaxy. Hence all the ‘tips’, the silly ‘instruction DVDs’ packaged with Galaxy 2 in all the regions that didn’t buy that many 3D platformers (Europe and Japan), the condescending adverts such as this Japanese one which assumes people have to literally be told that a Goomba in Super Mario Galaxy is like a Goomba in New Super Mario Bros:
Hence the linearity, because linearity is seen as ‘easier’ to understand or more accessible, despite the obvious point that people who aren’t buying 3D Mario games aren’t buying them because they’re too ‘complicated’ as much as they prefer the 2D gameplay. Indeed, it seems with the flagpoles being at the end of levels instead of stars, Nintendo is taking this about as far as you can possibly take it, to the point the linearity seems like Nintendo is basically making a 2D Mario game with a bit of depth to it (in the dimensional sense).
Unfortunately for them, linearity is not the best idea for 3D games, and Super Mario 64 is actually the 3D Mario game which did best sales wise, with its wide open sandbox style levels and varied possible approaches to completing each of the missions. My problem with the Mario Galaxy onwards approach is that it seems Nintendo is outright destroying what many 3D Mario game fans want to please people who’d be a lot happier with just another New Super Mario Bros game being released alongside Super Mario 3D Land.
But I admit, maybe I’m panicking a bit much here, the game could easily have more varied, open levels in the later worlds, and I’d never knew due to the fact we only know of the entirety of four levels from quite early in the game. Maybe this whole fear will turn out to be wrong just like the misconception that the game was overly slow did once a video surfaced showing someone using the run button.
The other issue was tied to this, that it seems Nintendo is just putting in everything that could possibly come from the older Mario games minus actually making it 2D. You know, airships, Koopalings, Boom Boom, Tanooki Suit… it all seems like Nintendo have thought that old school Mario gamers weren’t buying 3D games from the lack of references to Super Mario Bros 3 and World.
But this isn’t true. Heck, Super Mario Bros 2 sold perfectly well and that was just a dolled up version of Doki Doki Panic. Super Mario Land sold fantastically despite having barely anything to do with the other Mario games, with even the fire flower being replaced and normal Koopas not being present:
If people think the above is perfectly fine despite having most of the game different from the previous Mario ones, then it’s probably not a lack of references to older Mario game stopping your 3D games from selling as well.
But I can’t really complain that much here, since in all due respect, I am an overly obsessed Mario fan to the nth degree, for me the references to older Mario games pretty much are a selling point on their own. So it won’t really bother me in any way, but I just think Nintendo needs to consider that the gameplay is far more important to most people than how much (non sexual) fan service the game includes.
Never the less, we can only really wait and see. Perhaps the somewhat Malstrom inspired thought that some people just prefer 2D will be proven wrong